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Lords of Kur: A Savory Brunch Sandwich

My first three novels were centered on actual historical events and figures: Vlad Dracula’s Romania, Ireland at the time of GranĂ­a O’Malley, and Tombstone when the gunfight at OK Corral occurred. Menus were easy to research and I enjoyed connecting to the world of my characters through the food they knew. But what do you do in speculative fiction when history diverges into an alternative fantasy? In Lords of Kur , Sumerian civilization never faded, but thrived and grew into a spacefaring superpower. The Sumer-Akkad empire controls mining on asteroids, moons, and planets in our solar system. Earth’s own resources have been mostly depleted, so the empire holds a monopoly over the rest of the world, which struggles to bring sanctions against it. The state religion has become a ruse in which false oracles feed insights that align with the empire’s goals. True oracles who would share the gods’ true despair over humanity are suppressed with medicated teas. The protagonist of Lords
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How to Cook a Moose

Kate Christensen’s How to Cook a Moose isn’t the type of book I may have bought for myself, so I consider myself fortunate that my mom has been following this blog and knows my love for MFK Fisher’s work. As with Fisher’s How to Cook a Wolf , Christensen’s book offers practical advice and a series of anecdotes that are both humorous and thoughtful. Equal parts how to Cook a Wolf; Eat, Pray, Love ; and A Year in Provence , the book offers a delightful selection of recipes. Some are classics, like traditional New England chowder and the super basic lobster and steamers, with a recipe for Thermidor thrown in for good measure.  The book shines when Christensen discusses the environmental impact on food with climate change as well as the agricultural industry. Her advice on farmers markets, gardening, and CSA programs rings especially important in view of Fisher’s advice on cooking and eating well in the lean times of WWII. Much like my own style, the author finds solace in cooking, a

Bread of Dreams

Historical fiction often brings to mind stylized romance novels set against a picturesque backdrop, usually an account of a well-known noble’s life—not that they don’t have merit, but how many novelizations are there about Elizabeth I or Cleopatra? And of course we can’t forget the rags-to-riches story of a commoner who rises in society through a combination of cleverness and good looks (almost always humble, too!). Granted, readers often seek to be swept away in an escapist fantasy, but what about the stories hidden in the vast swaths of the population that are usually consigned to a sea of extras—the angry and mocking mob or the admiring crowd in the presence of gentle nobles—you know, the royal wedding of the unlikely-but-charming couple? In the words of Piero Camporesi, author of Bread of Dreams , “The voices of the wretched, the miserable and alienated, weak and plaintive, have never found citizenship in the beautiful palace that is literary history.” He covers quite a bit

A Medieval Breakfast for the Dark Lady of Doona

“You must be the beloved cook I’ve heard so much about,” I said.   She had a lilting laugh. “Ah, these men, they know no better. They’re just grateful for a hot meal.” Her gentle demeanor reminded me of my daughter. I wondered what Margaret must have thought sometimes when  Carraigahowley  Castle was overrun with men from my fleet.    “Well, you have an admirer in me, too,” I said. I glanced with interest at the stone griddle she placed before the fire. “What are you making?”    “Now that everyone has eaten, I’m having my own breakfast. Care to join me for some oatcakes and leeks?” She smiled as she reached for a wooden bowl.    — Dark Lady of  Doona   Back in my early blogging days circa 2010, I realized I had an opportunity to combine several interests on one platform. This was also the early days of the indie publishing movement— Smashwords  was an innovative rising star that put cost-saving, professional tools in the hands of authors. Etiquette for